PH Telcos to be Closely Monitored as Service Improvements Need to Continue

Published January 28, 2021, 1:04 AM

by Edgard Hilario

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque recently stated that President Duterte, based on a report from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the recommendation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), agreed on the need for telcos to continue shaping-up and for government to closely monitor telco service improvements. Roque also said that the President agreed on the need for the country’s telco services to be at par with neighboring countries like Vietnam and Thailand in terms of speed. 

As approved by the President, the NTC invited Globe and Smart on the first week of February to start its bi-monthly meetings with the DICT to help ensure that the telcos’ plans for expansion and improvement in 2021 are completed in time.

In the meeting, telcos are expected to brief the NTC on the status of their network roll-outs and current problems encountered.  

The NTC aims to determine how government can help address the said issues, particularly “red tape” challenges.  The NTC said that it shall push for front-loaded implementation of telcos’ roll-out plans, particularly for the first two quarters of 2021. 

The bi-monthly meetings will allow NTC to closely monitor telcos’ progress in helping the country improve its internet speed resulting to better global rankings in Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index. 

The latest Ookla Speedtest Global Index reported an impressive 14-notch jump in the Philippines’ ranking in mobile Internet connection speed.  The country’s average mobile Internet speed in December 2020 registered at 22.50 megabits per second (Mbps) compared to 18.49 Mbps in November 2020. 

With a total of 118 million tests conducted in all of the country’s regions, cities and municipalities throughout 2020, the monthly increase in speed of 4Mbps for mobile from November to December  was the highest monthly increase since July 2016. 

As the country’s third major telco player is set to launch commercially on March 2021, incumbents Globe and Smart are preparing their war chest, significantly increasing capital expenditures.

Globe is set to spend P90 billion, while Smart P92 billion this year.  Both investments are the highest annually for each telco for the past six years. 

Fiber internet company, Converge, is also expected to increase its capital expenditure from P19 billion to P23 billion this year as it aggressively provides pure end-to-end fiber internet connection to its market. 

The network build-up of both Globe and Smart are expected to go on full gear in 2021 as third telco player, DITO, plans to go head on with the incumbents fulfilling its commitment of spending P150 billion in 2020 for its infrastructure roll-out.